The Celtic Revival: Patrick (1)
My name is Patrick, and for sixty years
I have, with many labors, joys, and tears,
proclaimed the Name of Jesus in these parts,
although I know within my heart of hearts
I am a most uncultivated man,
the least of all the faithful in this land,
and looked upon with scorn by many. I
have sought with all my strength the Lord on high
to serve, not seeking status, wealth, or fame,
but just the celebration of the Name
of Him Who looked on me with mercy when
I was an ingrate, and the slave of men.
- Patrick, Confession (late 5th century)
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
- Psalm 8.3, 4
Most of us, I suspect, harbor incorrect views of ourselves. We don’t see ourselves accurately. And we don’t always – perhaps even ever – err on the side of a too high self-image. Most of us think of ourselves as fairly ordinary, not particularly gifted or skilled, and not likely to merit a page in history’s review of our times.
We love ourselves, as we ought – and, yes, sometimes more than we ought – but we do not think of ourselves as world-shakers, not even of the immediate world of our daily lives.
This is both good and not so good. And we can begin to reinforce the good and redress the not-so-good by looking to that humble high school drop-out whose flame ignited a revival that, as Thomas Cahill put it, “saved civilization.”
The Celtic Revival indicates a period in church history, from around 430 to 800 AD, when Europe was profoundly affected by a movement of God’s Spirit which awakened lost souls to Christ, revived complacent Christians, renewed Christian communities, and brought transforming grace and truth to cultures and societies from Ireland to Italy.
The Celtic Revival began in Ireland and spread from there to Scotland and Europe, the result of courageous and sacrificial efforts on the part of multitudes of unnamed men and women, who sowed the good seed of the Kingdom wherever they went.
And it began with one man. His name was Patrick, and he was raised a nominal Christian in the west of Britain, before being stolen by Irish raiders, at the age of 16, and enslaved in Ireland for six years.
There, during intense seasons of prayer, he met the Lord, and he was transformed. For sixty years after his escape from and subsequent return to Ireland, Patrick preached and taught and cared for people all over that pagan land, laying a foundation of spiritual vitality that would issue in a revival lasting nearly four centuries.
Near the end of his life, we find Patrick reflecting on his meanness, his smallness, his rusticity and lack of cultivation, and yet despite all this, God’s choice of him for a work of lasting and far-ranging impact. The difference in how Patrick saw himself, and the use God made of him can be summarized in one word: Jesus.
The question “Who am I?” must never be asked apart from the question, “Lord, Who are You?” This was Patrick’s approach to making sense of his life, as it was David’s. It must be ours as well. For God regards us rightly, our lives hidden with Him in Christ, according to His purposes, and for His glory. And He can lead us to think of ourselves as He does, so that, like Patrick, though we consider ourselves nobodies in the grand scheme of things, we may submit ourselves as God’s somebodies for world-changing service in our sector of the Lord’s field.
Psalm 8.3-6 (Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
When I regard Your heavens, Your handiwork above,
Ordained by Your good pleasure, according to Your love,
Then what am I, O Savior, that You take thought of me?
Or I should know Your favor and thus delivered be?
Yet we in Your own image with glory have been crowned,
To worship and to serve You throughout creation ‘round.
These works that sing Your glory in our poor hands are placed,
That we may rule before You to magnify Your grace.
Father, as I think of myself today, and of how You must see me in Jesus, I…
Your sector of the field
God sent Patrick to Ireland. Where has He sent you? Watch this brief video, then download the accompanying worksheet to identify and begin working your Personal Mission Field.
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.